April 21, 2003
Spring 2003 OverviewThe PooP
Fifth-year coach Lou Holtz is out to show that his back-to-back seasons of 8-4 (2000) and 9-3 (2001) were more reflective of what's going on at USC these days than last year's 5-7 disappointment. The Gamecocks have come a long way from Brad Scott's 1-10 team (1998) and Holtz's embarrassing 0-11 debut (1999) in Columbia, but they're still looking for a crowning achievement in a very tough league. That challenge will be tackled this fall by a group long on talent but short on returning starters. Nevertheless, with a reasonable nonconference schedule (Louisiana-Lafayette, Virginia, Alabama-Birmingham, Clemson) looming, including a whopping eight home games, a quality bowl is a reasonable goal for this team.
Probable 2003 Starters
* returning starter
+ injured/missed spring drills
Coming On Strong
The Gamecocks have a handful of potential stars, their first string is pretty solid from top to bottom and even their depth is impressive at several spots. Considering that they're also expecting some immediate-impact jucos and freshmen in the incoming class, this team should turn around last year's record without much of a problem. Rock-solid returning starters: DE George Gause, CB Dunta Robinson, DE Moe Thompson, OL Travelle Wharton. Also looking good: OL Na'shan Goddard, LB Ricardo Hurley, FS Jamacia Jackson, LB Marcus Lawrence, OL Jabari Levey, WR Taqiy Muhammad, DT Darrell Shropshire, LB Rod Thomas, WR Troy Williamson.
Cause For Concern?
Holtz and son Skip, his offensive coordinator, have gone back and forth repeatedly between the philosophies preferred by father (conservative) and son (wide-open). The Gamecocks' 2003 personnel on that side of the ball actually presents the opportunity for the program's most balanced approach in years, but Lou must follow through on the hands-off approach he adopted this spring if USC is going to maximize its scoring potential this fall. Also: shuffling of assistants' responsibilities, new quarterback, new tailback, new safeties, depth on both lines, punter.
On The Sidelines
The following players missed all or most of spring drills: LB Jeremiah Garrison (chest), LB Lance Laury (knee), DT Eric Stroman (foot), WR Matthew Thomas (suspended), DT Chris Tucker (foot), OL Chris White (neck).
The following scholarship athletes left the program in the past 12-18 months with eligibility remaining: DE Ron John-Finn, RB Thez Robinson (dismissed), WR Matthew Thomas (suspended/may return), DB Travis Weston.